The mission of the DCN is to increase the understanding of human cognitive processes, in particular learning and memory, and to find new ways to treat memory-related disorders. Memory is a fascinating capability that allows us to store and recall events that uniquely define our lives. Memory also allows us to learn from others - a prerequisite for the development and transmission of human cultures. Furthermore, it is well known that memory is enhanced by emotional arousal. This is a highly adaptive phenomenon, which helps us to remember both dangerous and favorable situations. Under certain conditions, however, this mechanism can also lead to intrusive and persistent traumatic memories of an extremely aversive event, thereby contributing to the development and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Scientists at the DCN are especially interested in the effects of stress and emotion on memory in health and disease and the genetic basis of human memory. We use a wide range of techniques, including pharmacological intervention, imaging techniques (PET, fMRI, DTI, EEG), transcranial magnetic stimulation, human genetics and behavioral assessments in healthy subjects and patients with neuro-psychiatric disorders.